On Eagles Wings Ministries

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez D.D.

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez D.D.

Dr. Rudy is like no other educator in the industry. His method follows a 3 step process he has perfected through 2 decades getting results for himself and over a decade helping people just like you get results.

Total Participation of the Members        

            We shall now go on to examine a second distinctive feature of a Spirit-filled congregation.

            In the regular services of most Christians churches today, almost all the real initiative and activity are confined to just a few individuals. The congregation may take part in certain pre-arranged activities, such as the singing of hymns from a book or the repetition of fixed prayers or responses. There may also be, within the main congregation, one or two smaller, specially trained groups – such as the choir or an orchestra. But apart from this all real initiative and activity are left in the hands of one or two individuals while most of the rest of the congregation remains passive.

            One person leads the singing; one person prays; one person preaches. Sometimes two or more, even of these activities, may be combined in one person. From the rest of the congregation little more is expected or required than an occasional “Amen.”

            However, if we examine the life and worship of the early church as portrayed in the New Testament, we find there was active participation by all the believers present in any service. This was brought about by the supernatural presence and power of the Holy Spirit operating in and through the individual believers.

            The Lamp on the Lampstand

        Further study of this New Testament pattern reveals that the supernatural gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit are not given primarily to the individual believer. Rather they are given, through the vessel of the individual believer, to the church or congregation as a whole. Therefore they cannot achieve their proper purpose unless they are freely manifested and exercised in the life of the congregation.

            In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul indicates how the gifts of the individual believers are intended to function within the corporate life of the congregation.

            First he lists nine specific supernatural gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit, ending with the words:

            But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).

            This last phrase indicates that these gifts or manifestations are given in the first instance to individual believers. However, Paul does not end there.

            In the next sixteen verses of the same chapter – verses 12-27 – Paul goes on to say that the Christians church is like one body with many members, and he likens each individual believer to a single member of the one body, ending with the words: “Now you are the body of Jesus, and members individually.”

            The lesson therefore is that, though the spiritual gifts are given to individual believers, they are given to enable those believers to play their proper part in the church – the body of Jesus – as a whole. Thus spiritual gifts are not intended primarily for the benefit of the individual but for the life and worship of the whole congregation.

            Paul makes the same point again in the very next verse.

            And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then
gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).

            Paul says that all of these various ministries and giftings have been set by God in the church. That is, they are intended not merely for private use by individual believers but for public manifestation in the church, the congregation of God’s people as a whole.

            This same truth is vividly illustrated by a brief parable of Jesus.

            Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house (Matt. 5:15).

            The two main symbols used in this parable are the lamp and the lampstand. The symbol of the lampstand may be interpreted by reference to Revelation 1:20.

            The seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

            Throughout the whole of Scripture, a lampstand is used as a symbol of a church or a congregation.

            The symbol of the lighted lamp may be interpreted by reference to Proverbs 20:27.

            The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord.

            Thus the lighted lamp is a symbol of the spirit of the Spirit-baptised believer, made to burn and to shine by the fire of the indwelling Spirit.

            Just as the lamp is appointed to take its place on the lampstand, so the Spirit-baptised believer is appointed to take his place in the public congregation of the church. A believer who has been baptised in the Holy Spirit but never exercises any spiritual gift in the service of the congregation is like a lamp under a basket. He fails to fulfil the purpose for which God gave him the gift.

            When the presence and power of the Holy Spirit are publicly manifested through the various believers, the whole life and worship of the congregation are completely transformed. The main responsibility for the ministry and the conduct of the service is no longer borne by one or two individuals while the rest remain passive.

            On the contrary, every member of the congregation participates actively in the service, and the various members minister to each other, rather than one or two ministering all the time to all the rest.

            This is the pattern indicated by Paul’s example of the body and its members, and it is confirmed by the words of Peter.

            As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Jesus (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

            Peter here speaks of God’s grace being manifold. That is, God’s grace is so rich, so many-sided, that a different aspect of that grace can be manifested through each individual member in the total worship and service of God’s people. In this way every member of the church may receive his own special manifestation and may thus have something to minister in turn to all the other members.

            Peter emphasises that every member of the church is included; no one need be left without a gift or a ministry. He says: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another” (1 Pet. 4:10). And again, in the next verse: “If anyone speaks . . . If anyone ministers” (1 Pet. 4:11). There is no question here of a church with one or two “professional,” full-time ministers, while all the remaining members are largely passive or inactive. Every member is included in God’s programme of supernatural ministry in the church; each one may have a gift; anyone may speak; anyone may minister.

            This picture of the church with every member active is confirmed by the words of Paul.

            For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Jesus, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom. 12:3-8).

            In these verses Paul once again likens the Christians church to a body, of which each individual believer is a member, and he lays great stress on the activity of each member. Notice the repetition of phrases such as “each one,” “the members,” “everyone.”

            Paul teaches that God has allotted to each member a special function, a special ministry. In conjunction with this, God has also made a double provision for the effective exercise of that ministry: 1) the measure of faith and 2) the special gifts which the ministry requires. In this way each member is fully equipped for his task.

            Thus the New Testament picture of the church is that of a vigorous, active body in which each individual member properly fulfils his special function. A church in which only one or two members had any active ministry would be, by New Testament standards, like a body in which, let us say, the head, one hand and one foot were strong and active, and all the rest of the body was paralysed and useless. Obviously such a body, considered as a whole, could never fulfil its proper function.

            Paul lays particular emphasis upon the supernatural ministry imparted by the Holy Spirit to every member of a New Testament church.

            But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:7).

            And again, concerning the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit:

            But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).

            Notice carefully what Paul says here: “the manifestation of the Spirit [the manifest, public demonstration of the indwelling Spirit] is given to each one [to every member of the church]” (1 Cor. 12:7). And again: All these nine supernatural gifts the Holy Spirit distributes “to each one individually [to every member]” (1 Cor. 12:11).

             These words make it plain that it is the express will of God for every member of the church to exercise spiritual gifts – that is, the open, public, supernatural manifestation of the indwelling Spirit. If all believers do not in fact have these gifts in operation, it is not because God withholds them but simply because such believers through ignorance or carelessness or unbelief fail to press on into the fullness of God’s revealed will for His people.

            Such believers have failed to obey Paul’s exhortation to “earnestly desire the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31). He further urges believers to “pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1).

            There are three spiritual gifts about which Paul is particularly specific: tongues, interpretation and prophecy.             

            I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied (1 Cor. 14:5).             

            Since Paul is here writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his words impart to the church the revealed will of God for all His believing people both to speak with tongues and to prophesy. If there are believers who do not enjoy the exercise of these gifts, it is not because God has withheld them but simply because those believers have not entered into the fullness of their inheritance in Jesus.

            The Lord said to Joshua and to His people under the old covenant:

            There remains very much land yet to be possessed (Josh. 13:1).

            So it is also with God’s people under the new covenant today.

            Paul says also:

            Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret (1 Cor. 14:13).

            God’s Word never tells us to pray for something out of God’s will. Therefore, we know it is God’s will for anyone who speaks in tongues also to interpret that utterance. Since Paul has already said it is God’s will for all to speak in tongues, it is therefore also God’s will for all to interpret.

            For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged (1 Cor. 14:31).

            Nothing could be plainer than this. It is within the revealed will of God for all the members of the church to exercise the spiritual gift of prophecy. Paul imposes only two limitations. Here in the verse just quoted he says, “One by one.” That is, believers are to exercise this gift by turns, not more than one believer prophesying at any one time. The purpose of this is obvious and is stated a few verses further on. It is to avoid confusion.

            Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others [the other members] judge (1 Cor. 14:29).

            Paul here limits the number who may prophesy in any service to “two or three.” The purpose of this is that the whole service should not be monopolised by one particular form of spiritual manifestation. The exercise of prophecy has its place in the service, but it does not make up the whole service. The ministry of the Holy Spirit through God’s people is much more varied than that. Many other different forms of ministry are required to make up a complete service.

            In this verse Paul also says clearly that the exercise of the gift of prophecy must be judged or tested. He says, “Let the others judge.” The “others” would include the rest of the Spirit-baptised believers present who are capable of recognising the genuine manifestation of the gift of prophecy. Even in this we see that Paul brings in all the members. He does not specify merely one professional minister who is to judge, but he makes the believers as a whole responsible to do this.

            Do not quench the Spirit.

            Do not despise prophecies.

            Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21).

            These three verses are addressed to Christians believers generally, and they must be taken closely together. It is wrong for believers to quench the Spirit – to reject the moving and manifestation of the Holy Spirit in their midst. It is also wrong for believers to despise prophesyings – to adopt an attitude of criticism, contempt or unbelief toward the manifestation of the gift of prophecy.

            On the other hand, when this gift is manifested, believers are responsible to test it by the standards of Scripture – and then to hold fast, to accept, to retain only that which is good, only that which accords with the standards of Scripture.

            We see, then, that Paul is careful to guard against anything that might be spurious or disorderly in the exercise or manifestation of spiritual gifts. However, with this one qualification, he repeatedly and emphatically states that all believers in the church can and should exercise the open manifestation of spiritual gifts. He particularly specifies the three gifts of tongues, interpretation and prophecy.

            What is the result in a church when all its members freely and publicly exercise supernatural spiritual gifts in this way?

            Paul describes the kind of services which result from this.

            How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification (1 Cor. 14:26).

            That phrase “each of you has” sets a pattern. It implies active participation by all the members.

            Generally speaking, when  professing Christians come together today, they do so with the primary purpose of receiving, not of contributing. They come to get a blessing, to receive healing, to hear a preacher.

            But this was not the way of the New Testament church. There the members came not primarily to receive but to contribute. Every one of them had something committed to him individually by the Holy Spirit which he was in turn able to contribute to the total worship and service of the church.

            Paul mentions various possible forms of contribution. A psalm would denote some form of musical contribution. This might be the product either of natural talent or of the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit. A teaching would denote the ability to impart some truth from the teaching of God’s Word. A tongue and an interpretation might be taken to cover generally the three gifts of supernatural utterance – tongues, interpretation and prophecy. A revelation would cover any one of the three main revelatory gifts – the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and discernment of spirits.

            In this way – mainly through the operation of the supernatural spiritual gifts – all the members had something of their own to contribute toward the total worship and service of the church. They were thus able to fulfil the injunction given by Peter.

            As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another (1 Pet. 4:10).

            Peter brings out the same point as Paul. The ability of the members to minister effectively to one another was due mainly to the fact that they had received these supernatural spiritual gifts. They were thus lifted out of the limitations of their own education or natural talent into a much higher realm of spiritual freedom.

            Had their ability to minister to each other depended on education or natural talent, many of them would have been left with very little to contribute. The result would have been just what we see in most churches today. The main burden of ministry would have fallen upon just a few of the members, while the rest would have remained largely passive or inactive, without any real opportunities for spiritual expression or development.

            Why is it that so many professional ministers in our modern churches suffer mental or nervous breakdowns?

            The answer is that, in many cases, one member is struggling to carry a burden of ministry which God never laid upon him. One member is seeking to fulfil a ministry which God intended to be divided up among all the members in the church. The almost inevitable result is some kind of breakdown.

            The only escape from the limitations and frustrations of this situation is through the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church, dividing spiritual gifts to all the members individually, according to His own will. This delivers believers from their own natural limitations and lifts them into a spiritual realm where they can share together the burden of the total ministry of the church.

            When all the members are thus equipped to function in their individual ministries, the church as a whole can fulfil its corporate role as the body of Jesus.